When was the last time you worked 9-to-5? Chances are, not for a while. In fact, it’s a safe bet you’ve worked longer hours than 8-to-6 or 7-to-7 recently. Why? Because in today’s connected world, we’re always on, almost everywhere.
The same goes for your clients. Regardless of their professional titles, they likely check work emails from home or access their VPN remotely. While there is an important debate to be had about the long-term impact constant connectivity has on society, there is an immediate concern for financial advisors: client cybersecurity.
According to a recent study by Chubb, 88% of respondents report being “very” or “somewhat” concerned about their cyber exposure. Unfortunately, that concern isn’t translating into action — just 23% rate themselves as doing an “okay” job at protecting their data, and one-in-five (19%) say they know how to protect their data, but neglect to do so.
While these numbers present a challenge, compounding the risk is that the erosion of the work-life divide means there are more potential weak points for cyber criminals to leverage. The same survey, for instance, found that almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents work from home — where cybersecurity defenses are often less robust — and more than a third (38%) conduct business on a personal device. More concerning is that those same devices often are accessible to people other than its owner, including immediate family (51%), extended family (15%) and friends (12%).
If done with the proper safeguards in mind, these behaviors are relatively low-risk. Unfortunately, very few implement the cornerstones of basic cybersecurity practices, with just 35% and 39% using multi-factor authentication and regularly changing their password, respectively. At stake for 27% is between a predicted $500 and $5,000 a day in losses as a result of not being able to work due to a breach, according to Chubb’s study. In some cases, cyber breaches can take days to resolve.
Best Protection is Awareness For financial advisors, poor cyber security behaviors on the part of their clients present real financial risks. Beyond daily losses due to the inability to work, there is the cost to remediate the situation. That can be expensive — of those who experienced a breach in the last year, almost one-in-five (18%) had to pay more than $5,000 to resolve the issue.
Clearly, there is a need to better educate clients about their cybersecurity exposures and behaviors. Fortunately for financial advisors, there are a number of available resources to help them drive that conversation, including:
• The Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. Toolkit contains information for all segments of the community, including for young professionals, business owners and parents. • For clients who are small business owners, the Small Business Administration has shared a variety of content that covers everything from cybersecurity tips, how to protect against ransomware and how to respond to cyber-hijacking on social media channels.
Additionally, there are a number of simple, easy-to-follow best practices financial advisors should insist their clients adhere to, including regularly changing passwords, using two-step verifications and restricting the information clients are willing to share to download the latest app or software update.
Yet as hackers get more sophisticated, even the most robust cybersecurity defenses can fail. Talking to your clients about whether they have personal cybersecurity insurance that can help them resolve a breach and minimize subsequent financial losses is a critical piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. Taken together, these efforts can help give you (and your clients) peace of mind knowing they are protected 24/7, no matter where clients are or what they’re doing.
If you have any questions about this topic, please email me at AskFran@Chubb.com.
Fran O’Brien is Division President, North America Personal Risk Services, Chubb. She can be reached at AskFran@chubb.com.